China selects 294 solar power plants for subsidy

BEIJING Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:44pm EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China has identified 294 solar power projects with total generating capacity of 642 megawatts (MW) in its first pilot program.

Beijing has said it will subsidies at least half of the investment cost.

The capacity will be nearly 30 percent more than the minimum target Beijing set in July when it launched the unprecedented "golden sun" plan, which was part of China's drive to catch up in a global race to find alternatives to fossil fuels.

These projects were expected to cost around 20 billion yuan ($2.93 billion) and be ready for use in two or three years, the Ministry of Finance said in a release on its website (www.mof.gov.cn).

Of the projects, 232 with total generating capacity of 290 MW will be constructed by major industrial and commercial firms and the power output would be consumed by themselves.

Twenty-seven independent photovoltaic power generating projects, with total capacity of 46 MW, will be built in remote regions that have no power supply. The projects were expected to generate enough power to meet demand for more than 300,000 residents in the regions.

The remaining 35 projects, with total capacity of 306 MW, would be utility-scale plants, whose power output would be fed into grid networks.

The finance ministry also laid out specific price and quality requirements for parts and components in the qualified solar power projects, but it did not provide project names or where they are located.

The Ministry of Finance had said the government would subsidies 50 percent of investment for solar power projects as well as relevant power transmission and distribution systems that connect to grid networks, 70 percent of cost for independent solar projects in powerless regions.

In March, the ministry said it would provide 20 yuan per watt peak (Wp) of subsidy for solar projects attached to buildings that have capacity of more than 50 kilowatt peak, which could cut the power generating cost by around half to about 1 yuan per kilowatt-hour.

China is expected to raise its 2020 solar power generation target more than fivefold to at least 10 gigawatts (GW). With incentives, analysts expect over 2 GW in new solar capacity will be installed as early as 2011, up from just over 100 MW in 2008.

China has more than 800 GW of power generating capacity, and around three quarters of them are fired by coal.

(Reporting by Jim Bai and Chen Aizhu, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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